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“Let those who are fond of blaming and finding fault while they sit safely at home ask, ‘Why did you not do thus and so?’ I wish they were on this voyage. I well believe that another voyage of a different kind awaits them, or our faith is naught.” — Christopher Columbus, Lettera Rarissima to the Sovereigns, Fourth Voyage (7 July 1503), quoted in Admiral of the Ocean Sea, by Samuel Morison
Columbus’ choice of language was more genteel and diplomatic than Morison’s paraphrase of his sentiment: in other words, they can go to hell. Teddy Roosevelt echoed the sentiment more than 400 years later in his “man in the arena” speech. Men of great accomplishment have surely been frustrated by their critics throughout the ages. Columbus was well aware of his contemporary critics, but he could not have known how many people would be denouncing him more than 500 years after his death. I find it reassuring that he anticipated all the elite progressives and liberal arts students who protest any recognition of his accomplishments, while enjoying the relative safety and comfort of modern life. And it’s a fitting rejoinder for many people today who write tweets or columns, but never shoulder the burden of taking action.Published in